London’s Victoria & Albert is one of the great museums of the world, with an enormous collection of applied arts from all periods and all nationalities. Now a selection of Christian Louboutin’s Fifi pumps are on display as one of the 12 initial exhibits in the museum’s newest gallery that’s dedicated to “rapid response collecting.” The items will change constantly to reflect current design trends and how they engage with contemporary issues (other initial items include a 3D-printed handgun and a new carbon fiber elevator cable that allows elevators to travel higher than ever before, thus transforming the urban skyline.)
The shoes from Louboutin’s 2013 Les Nudes collection were chosen because of how their five tones—ranging from a dark brown to a blush pink—redefine the concept of “nude” for a multiracial, globalized world and signal “a change in where fashion consumers are located and who they are,” says Corinna Gardner, the museum’s curator of contemporary product design. Each shoe is displayed not on a leg but held at the end of a mannequin’s arm painted in the same flesh tone as the shoe, a reference to how shoes are displayed in parts of the world where there are strict views on female nudity.
With a superb collection of dresses going back four centuries as well as popular exhibitions like last year’s David Bowie retrospective and the recent Italian Fashion 1945—2014, the V&A is becoming London’s answer to the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute in New York, so the Louboutins should be right at home.
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